How open should I be about my sexuality?
You’ve finally figured it out. After a ton of soul-searching you’ve decided that it’s less a case of ‘Adam and Eve’ and more a case of ‘Adam and Steve’. Or ‘Alice and Eve’. Or maybe even ‘The-Alice-Formerly-Known-As-Adam and Eve-Who’s-Now-Steve’ (Phew! Nobody said sexuality was straightforward…)
So if you’ve decided to come out is it all about buying a rainbow flag and a ticket to the Rio carnival then? Not necessarily. Choosing how you want to express your sexuality is a big deal and there are lots of things to consider.
In the clip above from Underage and Gay, 14 year-old Beckham has decided to be open about being gay. His mum, however, isn’t convinced he should flaunt his sexuality. You can find out more about the show on All 4.
Should you always be open about your sexuality?
Whether you want to shout your sexual identity from the rooftops through a glittery loudhailer or you choose to play your cards closer to your chest, it’s entirely up to you. There are no rights and wrongs when it comes to sharing your sexuality, but here are some things you might want to think about...
The big announcement
Coming out can be brilliantly liberating but it can also be seriously scary. If you’re worried how to break it to your friends, family, colleagues or classmates or just need to get it off your chest, it can be really helpful to contact a support group who can help you through it. Check out our support page for links.
Finding a space where you can be exactly who you want to be can come as a big relief. Online, there are loads of websites and forums where you can share experiences, concerns and questions with other teens who are also trying to figure their sexuality (but, obviously, you should never share personal details with strangers you talk to online). Out in the real world, lots of schools, colleges and universities have LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or questioning) societies or events where you can meet like-minded people. Away from campus, most large towns and cities will have LGBTQ social groups for teens as well. Again, our support page has useful links for finding out what’s going on near you.
Consider the context
You don’t always have to be open with everyone. It’s fine to be an outrageous diva with your besties on Friday night and super conservative in class on Monday. It’s up do you to decide what you’re comfortable sharing and with who.
Changing your mind
Sexuality doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture. It’s perfectly OK to want to experiment, to change things up and to switch direction on your sexual journey. It’s a fluid and flexible as you want it to be and there’s nothing wrong with blazing your own trail.
Unfortunately not everyone may be as comfortable with how you choose to express yourself as you are. It’s a sad fact that, even though things are far better than they used to be, homophobia can still rear its ugly mug in 21st century Britain. Homophobic bullying comes in many forms. On the most extreme end it can range from physical violence, verbal abuse and acts of discrimination whilst at the other end there are the ‘harmless’ jokes, ‘affectionate’ name-calling or even just everyday phrases such as ‘that’s so gay!’ that pop up in conversation. Whilst these aren’t necessarily meant to hurt your feelings, they can still make you feel different or separate from ‘normal’ society.
Confronting homophobia can be hard but the law is on your side. Nobody has the right to threaten you, abuse you or discriminate against you and there are measures in place to protect you. If you experience homophobia, tell your teachers, your tutors, your employer or someone in authority. If it’s really serious, contact the police.
It gets better
Feeling different, lonely or picked on can feel particularly devastating when you’re young. At school it’s far harder to openly embrace who you want to be or to find other people who feel the way you do. Just remember as you get older it WILL get better as you discover the independence and confidence you need to be true to your feelings and to seek out the people who’ll embrace you for who you really are.
Need help getting your head round all of the words and phrases related to sexuality and gender? Have a butcher's at our LGBTQ Cheat Sheet.
If you’re worried about homophobia, you’re confused about your identity or you just want to talk to someone about figuring this sexuality thing out, check out our support links.